With athletes and fans from dozens of countries in the Americas converging for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games this summer, four York University students have combined their skills in computer science and artistic expression to create an interactive installation that aims to make people think about community, identity, diversity and inclusiveness.
Impress:Visage is an immersive photo media experience produced by LaLaine Ulit-Destajo, Denise Enriquez, Kevin Feliciano and Youhan Guan. Ulit-Destajo, Guan and freshly minted alumna Enriquez (BA ’15) are from the Digital Media program offered collaboratively by the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) and the Lassonde School of Engineering; Felicano is a theatre student with an interest in digital media applications for the stage.
In a creative application of human-computer interaction technology, the project invites the public visiting York’s Keele campus for the Games to take digital “selfie” style photos and then remix their facial features with those of previous participants.
By means of a facial detection algorithm, the self-portraits are automatically segmented into elements that make up the human face: eyes, nose, mouth etc. The “remix” part of the experience takes place as the facial fragments are projected onto a wall and the participant moves and recombines them via body and hand gestures, using the motion-sensing technology of a Microsoft Kinect. The newly constructed portraits are saved and projected on an adjacent wall in the space.
Every visitor’s features are saved to an image bank of eyes, noses and mouths that incoming participants can play with and contribute to in turn.
“The Games are a great chance to embrace the diversity of the Americas,” said Ulit-Destajo, who served as project lead for Impress:Visage. “Through the process of recombining all our faces, the bounds of cultural origins blur. With this installation, we invite people to engage with and appreciate the differences between diverse communities, as well as what brings us together, as we gather to celebrate the Games.”
“I applaud the creativity of these digital media students and this fantastic project,” said Alice Pitt, York University’s vice-provost academic. “It embodies next-generation thinking and ideals while upholding the Games’ spirit of diversity and inclusion. I’m looking forward to seeing the many new faces of York University and our visitors combined.”
Impress:Visage will be installed in room 107 of the Stedman Building on York University’s Keele campus for two weeks during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Admission is free and open to the public July 21 to 25, from noon to 5pm, and Aug. 10 to 14, from noon to 3pm.
The project team received support from the Digital Media program, which contributed the equipment, as well as AMPD professors and project mentors Don Sinclair, Ian Garrett and Mark-David Hosale.
Financial support for Impress:Visage was provided through the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games @ York Fund.